Eight Companies at Risk of Bankruptcy
Posted by oldancestor on January 9, 2011
By Eric J Baker
When U-Haul, the do-it-yourself truck rental company, decided to apply its successful business model to the air-freight industry last year, economists hailed the move. In a tight economy, they said, average Americans would rather fly their own stuff across the country than pay some cargo company and an overpriced pilot.
But when eighty percent of U-Fly’s fleet was destroyed in crashes on the first day of business last August, the company was forced to ground the remainder of its aircraft. They still sit today, rusting.
“What we found out,” says company CEO Zap Crossin, “is that it’s really hard to fly an airplane when you don’t know what you’re doing.”
With upscale supermarket chains Whole Foods and Wegmans competing for the attention of heath-conscious shoppers, executives at Seven/sixteenths Food Markets decided to target the blue-collar consumer who still cares about quality, but only sometimes. Sounds like a giant, untapped audience, right?
Wrong. It turns out that there are tons of ordinary supermarkets out there that don’t sell imported cheese and gourmet desserts. Seven/sixteenths is finding the competition rather stiff and continues to search, in vain, for a market share. Their nonsensical TV ad slogan, “Slightly less than half,” isn’t helping.
The one-stop-shop for Clark Nova, Martinelli, and Krupp Dominator typewriters was one of America’s most powerful corporations in the 1950s and 60s. Then, in 1967, they made the mistake of firing a young clerk by the name of Bill Gates, who vowed to create a software program that would one day render typewriters useless.
“I didn’t even know what the words ‘software program’ meant,” Gates wrote in his autobiography in 2002, “but once I said them, I knew I had to come up with something.”
TypewriterMax hasn’t sold a single unit since 1981, when movie director John Landis needed one for a movie prop.
Johnson & Johnson
Not to be confused with the massively successful global pharmaceutical firm, this Johnson & Johnson (the “Johnsons” are reversed) sells paper bags full of dog poop. Customers place the bags on their cranky neighbors’ porches, set the bags on fire, knock on the door, then run away. The neighbor comes outside and, in a panic, stomps on the… well, you know.
It’s all in good fun. Until the target of the prank is wearing dynamite shoes, as was Edward Gymteacher of Calumet City, Illinois, on the day he was killed in October, 2008.
“We live in a very litigious society,” notes company president Johnny “John” Johnson.
1M and 2M
1M invented little yellow squares of paper. 2M invented strips of mild stickiness. But unlike Reese’s brilliant union of chocolate and peanut butter, these two companies never thought to join forces, and the rest is history.
“It seems so obvious in retrospect,” says 2M executive Jan Brady. “But someone else got there first.”
1M, on the other hand, refuses to look back, instead devoting its resources to promoting pale yellow as the confetti color of choice.
Binocular maker IndirectTV, which asks its customers, “Why pay for TV when your neighbor already does,” has struggled for years to invent a lens that can penetrate curtains and blinds. And with the ubiquity of home surround sound nowadays, the product’s total lack of audio is turning off tech-savvy buyers.
“I thought I was getting a deal,” says unhappy shopper Jacques Voyeur, “but my neighbor hardly watches TV at all. She just has naked pillow fights with her lingerie model friends all day.”
The company says it will have to close its doors if it can’t think of a new marketing pitch for the device.
This upstart equipment manufacturer has yet to sell a single one of its $3000 pet chipper units and will likely cease operations by late spring.
“We drastically overestimated consumer interest in a product that grinds up fluffy, cute animals and blasts their bloody pulp all over the wall,” laments company owner Jeffrey D.